Perspective Newsletter

Mind your beeswax when you head outside

They're tired. They're cranky. And don't even think about drinking soda without offering them one.

No, not your cousins visiting from out of town. We mean yellow jackets and wasps, which probably would rather sting than look at you this time of year.

August and September are peak season for stinging insect activity and aggression. Colonies have hit their maximum size, and the young have matured. Freed from the grind of feeding a bazillion larvae, frazzled workers are hitting the carbs during the last couple months of their short lives. And they'd prefer to go out in a blaze of picnic watermelon, ice cream, and pie, thank you very much.

Every year, about half a million Americans wind up in emergency rooms after running afoul of these inch-long terrors. To avoid joining them, experts suggest you:

  • Wear shoes, not flip-flops, when doing yardwork.
  • Avoid flowery perfume, which attracts wasps.
  • Don't frantically flap your arms if you're buzzed by a wasp. It just amps up their aggression. It's possible to outrun them – they fly at six to seven miles per hour.
  • Seal garbage cans and keep doors and windows screened.
  • Call a pest professional to solve the problem quickly and safely if you spot a nest under your eaves or in your wall.
  • If you've ever had a bad reaction to a sting, carry an epinephrine pen. Anaphylaxis is potentially fatal and is a "treat first, call for help later" medical emergency.
An interesting nature note

Even normally docile honeybees get a little cantankerous this time of year, but for different reasons. With flowers waning, their source of nectar is running low. They become aggressive around their hives to protect their stockpile of honey, mostly from marauding "robber" bees. Who knew?

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